Thursday, 31 July 2014

European electric car sales could reach one million p/a by 2025 Sales of electric cars across Europe have doubled every year since 2010, according to a new report from environmental NGO, T&E.

Last year alone, around 50,000 plug-in vehicles were sold in Europe, representing 0.4 per cent of the total market for new cars sales.

While electric vehicles still represent a tiny fraction of overall new car sales, 2013’s sales figures were still a massive improvement on the year before, when around 24,203 plug-in vehicles sold during 2012. Just 700 EVs sold in 2010.

While the future for EVs sales is uncertain, T&E says that if a similar trajectory continues, then Europe could see plug-in sales exceed 100,000 by 2015, 500,000 by 2021 and 1 million by 2025.

As the market for electric cars grows, there are new models gaining ground in the battle for sales. In 2013, the top three selling plug-in vehicles were all new entrants to the market; the Renault ZOE, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and the Volvo V60 Plug-in.

In contrast, sales of the best selling models of 2012 fell significantly, with the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera, Peugeout iON and Citroen C-Zero all struggling to keep pace with the new competition.

The new report also shows how Europe now represents a quarter of the global market for plug-in vehicles (which includes plug-in hybrids, range-extended models and fully electric cars). Sales in California remain the highest in the world driven by a mandatory but tradeable requirement on carmakers to supply small numbers of EVs in the state. As a result of this requirement, the state benefits from the availability of extra EV models, some of which are produced almost exclusively for the state including the Fiat 500e, Toyota RAV4 EV, Honda Fit EV and Chevrolet Spark EV.

T&E says it would like to see a similar requirement in Europe rather than the current flawed ‘supercredits’ system, which it says means that electric vehicles essentially allow carmakers to avoid making efficiency improvements to their conventionally fuelled vehicles.

Cars remain responsible for 15 per cent of Europe’s total CO2 emissions, and are the largest source of emissions within the transport sector.

Current EU legislation requires carmakers to meet a fleet average of 95g/km CO2 by 2021. Through the supercredit system, carmakers are rewarded for the production of a small volume of electric vehicles, allowing them to reduce their average CO2 figure without necessarily making improvements to their combustion models.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Diesel cars face £10 charge for driving into central London' Plans to charge drivers of diesel cars about £10 to drive into central London are being considered.

The levy would be on top of the current £11.50 congestion charge for driving into the centre of the capital.

London Mayor Boris Johnson wants the new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to be introduced by 2020.

The Times newspaper says he will lobby the government to increase vehicle excise duty on diesel cars to encourage motorists to move to cleaner vehicles.

Only diesel vehicles meeting the Euro 6 emissions standard will be exempt, while petrol cars registered before 2006 will also have to pay.

All new cars sold from 1 January 2015 must meet the Euro 6 emissions standard, a stringent European Union directive to cut exhaust pollutants which targets a cut in nitrogen dioxide, seen as an air pollutant.

London has been in breach of European targets on air pollution

A spokesman for the mayor said the plans will be subject to a full consultation and any levy on cars not meeting the Euro 6 emissions standard would be "likely to be a similar amount to the congestion charge".

The mayor's environment adviser, Matthew Pencharz, said: "Over recent years the Euro diesel engine standards have not delivered the emission savings expected, yet governments have been incentivising us to buy them.

"This has left us with a generation of dirty diesels."

Correspondent analysisMatt McGrath, BBC News environment correspondent

Many politicians argue that the root cause of London's poor air quality is Europe.

EU attempts to improve diesel engines in cars have focused on reducing carbon dioxide, but emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) weren't restricted.

Many governments, not just in Britain, gave incentives to motorists to turn to diesel as a way of meeting EU climate change targets. So NO2 levels soared.

Mayor Boris Johnson will give more details about his plans to curb emissions of nitrogen dioxide in a speech to mark 60 years since the first London-specific Clean Air Act was passed, stopping the burning of coal in some areas of the city.

Campaigners now believe the mayor should take a note of the history and announce a complete ban on the dirtiest diesels.

The RAC foundation has said incentives, such as putting diesel cars in lower vehicle excise duty bands, was to blame.

Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: "This isn't quite a mis-selling scandal, but for years ministers took their eye off the ball and encouraged drivers to buy diesels to help fight climate change.

"That has come at a cost: local air pollution. Today 10 million cars in Britain are powered by diesel engines - a third of the total.

"Part of the problem is regulation. In laboratory conditions diesel cars have met strict test criteria. Unfortunately that performance hasn't been matched on the road and now we have a significant health issue because of the dash for diesel."

The initiatives are being considered to help meet European regulations on clean air and avoid the threat of heavy fines for breaching them.

'Backward step'

But AA president Edmund King said the vehicles with the most impact on air quality were buses, taxis and trucks.

"Very few cars enter central London so these measures will have more effect on the growing numbers of small businesses and service vehicles on whom London's economy relies.

"They will have to plan ahead to change their vehicles if they are to stay in business."

Simon Birkett, from Clean Air in London, said: "In February last year Boris was planning to ban older diesel vehicles from the congestion charging area from 2020.

"What he's now announcing is a backward step. It will be a charge for some diesel vehicles 10 years after a city like Berlin actually banned the oldest diesels.

"It's like allowing rich people to pay ten quid a day to smoke cigars in pubs and schools."

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said that unless action was taken, London, Birmingham and Leeds would face dangerous levels of pollution from vehicle exhausts by 2030.

Government figures show long-term exposure to air pollution contributed to more than 28,000 deaths across the UK in 2010.

And in February, it was reported that pollution near Buckingham Palace was the worst in the UK and almost four times the EU legal limit.

Jenny Jones, from the Green Party on the London Assembly, told BBC London 94.9: "I back Boris on this but he is making a lot of promises that a future mayor will have to implement.

"He should show some political bravery and bring the Ultra Low Emission Zone forward - what is he waiting for?"

Ireland: rapid charge point every 60km Ireland now has 1,200 public charging points for electric cars all over the island – and a fast charger, on average, every 60km on main roads.

The announcement of the major infrastructure milestone may go some way towards alleviating 'range anxiety' – fear of not having enough charge on a long journey – which has deterred people from buying electric cars.

The ESB (the national electricity board in Ireland) says it has just completed installing fast chargers across the country as well as 10 AC chargers at Iarnród Éireann sites. All big towns and cities have electric vehicle chargers.

ESB's head of innovation, John McSweeney, said: "It is expected that the nationwide network of charge points will encourage people to go electric in the near future."

He said an electric car costs just two cents a kilometre to fuel and motorists could save €2,300 a year in running costs.

Electric-car buyers also get incentives worth €10,000 in grants and VRT rebates. But official figures show just 125 electric cars were bought in the first six months of this year.

It is an improvement on the 36 for the corresponding period in 2013 but falls well short of the Government's target that 10pc of all cars will run on electricity by 2020.

UK to allow driverless cars on UK roads in January 2015 The UK government has announced that driverless cars will be allowed on public roads from January next year.

It also invited cities to compete to host one of three trials of the tech, which would start at the same time.

In addition, ministers ordered a review of the UK's road regulations to provide appropriate guidelines.

The Department for Transport had originally pledged to let self-driving cars be trialled on public roads by the end of 2013.

Business Secretary Vince Cable revealed the details of the new plan at a research facility belonging to Mira, an automotive engineering firm based in the Midlands.

"Today's announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than six months, putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society," he said.

UK engineers, including a group at the University of Oxford, have been experimenting with driverless cars. But, concerns about legal and insurance issues have so far restricted the machines to private roads.

Other countries have, however, been swifter to provide access to public routes.

The US States of California, Nevada and Florida have all approved tests of the vehicles. In California alone, Google's driverless car has done more than 300,000 miles on the open road.

In 2013, Nissan carried out Japan's first public road test of an autonomous vehicle on a highway.

And in Europe, the Swedish city of Gothenburg has given Volvo permission to test 1,000 driverless cars - although that trial is not scheduled to occur until 2017.

Competition cash

UK cities wanting to host one of the trials have until the start of October to declare their interest.

The tests are then intended to run for between 18 to 36 months.

A £10m fund has been created to cover their costs, with the sum to be divided between the three winners.

Meanwhile, civil servants have been given until the end of this year to publish a review of road regulations.

This will cover the need for self-drive vehicles to comply with safety and traffic laws, and involve changes to the Highway Code, which applies to England, Scotland and Wales.

Two area will be examined by the review: how the rules should apply to vehicles in which the driver can take back control at short notice, and how they should apply to vehicles in which there is no driver.
Nissan is one of many companies developing self-drive vehicles

International rivals

In May, Google unveiled plans to manufacture 100 self-driving vehicles.

The search-giant exhibited a prototype which has no steering wheel or pedals - just a stop-go button.

Google has also put its autonomous driving technology in cars built by other companies, including Toyota, Audi and Lexus.

Other major manufacturers, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and General Motors, are developing their own models.

Most recently, the Chinese search engine Baidu also declared an interest, saying its research labs were at an "early stage of development" on a driverless car project.

But concerns about the safety of driverless cars have been raised by politicians in the US and elsewhere.

Earlier this month, the FBI warned that driverless cars could be used as lethal weapons, predicting that the vehicles "will have a high impact on transforming what both law enforcement and its adversaries can operationally do with a car".

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Iceland ready to switch to EV

Iceland is poised to become the first country in the world fully wired for electric car charging, and it’s happening all at once, with Israel’s misfortune becoming Iceland’s gain. It helps, a lot, that Iceland has abundant clean electricity and is so small—the size of Kentucky, with only 325,000 people.

The first three Tesla Model S cars for 2014 lined up for new customers. (EVEN photo)<a  data-cke-saved-href="">test</a> href="">test</a>
The first three Tesla Model S cars for 2014 lined up for new customers. (EVEN photo)
Huge resources of both hydroelectric and geothermal energy mean that Iceland has generating capacity far beyond what it can use itself. Right now a lot of the excess power is going to making aluminum for export, a dirty process. Since gasoline is very expensive in Iceland (approximately $8 a gallon), fueling with domestic power makes a whole lot of sense. A national effort to run Iceland on hydrogen fizzled out, in part because of the difficulty of getting fuel-cell cars onto the island, but EVs are readily available.

Gisli Gislason, the CEO of Reykjavik-based Northern Lights Energy and EVEN, tells me that he’s bought 200 240-volt charging poles from the flamboyant but now-defunct Better Place, which was to have turned Israel into an electric vehicle paradise. In a deal that splits Better Place’s considerable assets, Iceland gets the chargers and Renault takes back its 359 Fluence Z.E. cars set up for battery swapping. Liquidators have been trying to offload Better Place’s assets since last year, but two previous deals fell through.

Gisli Gislason of EVEN (left) and Shai Agassi of Better Place shake hands on a deal in London. (EVEN photo)
Gisli Gislason of EVEN (left) and Shai Agassi of Better Place shake hands on a deal in London. (EVEN photo)
EVEN is the main EV vendor in Iceland, selling the Tesla Model S, the Nissan Leaf and the Indian-made Mahindra Reva e2o. Since September 2013, Gislason says, 20 Leafs and 20 Model S have been sold. “We expect to put 250 new EVs on the road in the next 12 months. We’re seeing the same trend as in Norway—sales are booming.”

There aren’t many chargers now, but wiring the country won’t be a huge challenge. “The good thing about Iceland is that we have two thirds of the population in the capital of Reykjavik,” Gislason says. “There’s one 900-mile main road around the island, and only a few small towns off the road, but within 60 miles of it. I think 200 charging poles should do the job.” The company is close to a deal with a fuel retailer that would put chargers in gas station parking lots across Iceland.

Better Place charging poles arrive in Iceland. Two hundred will cover the country. (EVEN photo)
Better Place charging poles arrive in Iceland. Two hundred will cover the country. (EVEN photo)
“If this works out, EV owners in Iceland will not only be using the cleanest energy in the world, but also driving for free,” Gislason said. “Beat that.”

Helsinki's ambitious plan to make car ownership pointless

The Guardian: Finland's capital hopes a 'mobility on demand' system that integrates all forms of shared and public transport in a single payment network could essentially render private cars obsolete

The Finnish capital has announced plans to transform its existing public transport network into a comprehensive, point-to-point "mobility on demand" system by 2025 – one that, in theory, would be so good nobody would have any reason to own a car.

Helsinki aims to transcend conventional public transport by allowing people to purchase mobility in real time, straight from their smartphones. The hope is to furnish riders with an array of options so cheap, flexible and well-coordinated that it becomes competitive with private car ownership not merely on cost, but on convenience and ease of use.

Subscribers would specify an origin and a destination, and perhaps a few preferences. The app would then function as both journey planner and universal payment platform, knitting everything from driverless cars and nimble little buses to shared bikes and ferries into a single, supple mesh of mobility. Imagine the popular transit planner Citymapper fused to a cycle hire service and a taxi app such as Hailo or Uber, with only one payment required, and the whole thing run as a public utility, and you begin to understand the scale of ambition here.

That the city is serious about making good on these intentions is bolstered by the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority's rollout last year of a strikingly innovative minibus service called Kutsuplus. Kutsuplus lets riders specify their own desired pick-up points and destinations via smartphone; these requests are aggregated, and the app calculates an optimal route that most closely satisfies all of them.

All of this seems cannily calculated to serve the mobility needs of a generation that is comprehensively networked, acutely aware of motoring's ecological footprint, and – if opinion surveys are to be trusted – not particularly interested in the joys of private car ownership to begin with. Kutsuplus comes very close to delivering the best of both worlds: the convenient point-to-point freedom that a car affords, yet without the onerous environmental and financial costs of ownership (or even a Zipcar membership).

But the fine details of service design for such schemes as Helsinki is proposing matter disproportionately, particularly regarding price. As things stand, Kutsuplus costs more than a conventional journey by bus, but less than a taxi fare over the same distance – and Goldilocks-style, that feels just about right. Providers of public transit, though, have an inherent obligation to serve the entire citizenry, not merely the segment who can afford a smartphone and are comfortable with its use. (In fairness, in Finland this really does mean just about everyone, but the point stands.) It matters, then, whether Helsinki – and the graduate engineering student the municipality has apparently commissioned to help it design its platform – is proposing a truly collective next-generation transit system for the entire public, or just a high-spec service for the highest-margin customers.

It remains to be seen, too, whether the scheme can work effectively not merely for relatively compact central Helsinki, but in the lower-density municipalities of Espoo and Vantaa as well. Nevertheless, with the capital region's arterials and ring roads as choked as they are, it feels imperative to explore anything that has a realistic prospect of reducing the number of cars, while providing something like the same level of service.

To be sure, Helsinki is not proposing to go entirely car-free. (Many people in Finland have a summer cottage in the countryside, and rely on a car to get to it.) But it's clear that urban mobility badly needs to be rethought for an age of commuters every bit as networked as the vehicles and infrastructures on which they rely, but who retain expectations of personal mobility entrained by a century of private car ownership. Helsinki's initiative suggests that at least one city understands how it might do so.

BMW 24Kw DC wall charger's take on the BMW 24Kw DC wall charger:

Being able to rapid charge an electric car’s battery pack from empty to 80 per cent full in around thirty minutes is unarguably one of the biggest selling points among many of today’s modern electric cars. In order to install one however, sites wishing to offer DC quick charging facilities have not only needed the electrical capacity to provide upwards of 50 kilowatts of power to a rapid charge station but the physical space to set aside for the unit itself. Traditionally, that’s meant a spot in a nearby parking lot capable of accommodating a unit as big as a standard domestic upright refrigerator.

You’ll need a BMW i3 fitted with the optional CCS charging socket to make use of the new charging station.

But at yesterday’s Plug-In 2014 conference in San Jose, California, BMW North America unveiled a new DC quick charging station that weighs in at 100 pounds, is small enough to mount on a wall, and will be sold to official BMW partners across the U.S. for just $6,548.

Developed in collaboration with Bosch Automotive Service Solutions, the DC quick charging station is based on the DC Combo Combined Charge Standard (CCS) developed between U.S. and German car makers as an alternative to the already popular CHAdeMO quick charge standard. While the standard itself is capable of supporting power transfer rates as high as 50 kilowatts, BMW’s wall-mounted unit maxes out at 24 kilowatts.

While that might seem a lot slower than the full 50 kilowatts maximum allowable under the standard, the 24 kilowatt charger isn’t that much slower than a more powerful unit. That’s because electric cars only charge at the full 50 kilowatts for the first few minutes of a quick charging cycle. As the battery pack’s state of charge rises, the amount of power being fed into the battery pack gradually drops, as this very informative graph from the MyNissanLeaf forum shows.

As a consequence, someone who wishes to charge up their BMW i3 with the new BMW DC rapid charger from empty to 80 per cent full may notice that they need to wait around for a few more minutes than they might with a 50 kilowatt charger, but the only people who will really notice are those who have a completely empty battery pack and need a few minutes of quick charging versus a full charge to help them reach their destination.

BMW’s wall-mounted charging station is designed to offer 24 kilowatt DC quick charging power to the BMW i3

We should probably note at this point that the BMW i DC quick charger should work with any electric car fitted with the DC Combo 1 CCS connector, yet quick charging capability isn’t included as standard with the BMW i3. To make use of this charging station and the connector, you’ll need to have specified your car at the point of ordering with DC CCS capability, regardless of it being an all-electric i3 or a range-extended i3 REx. If your car doesn’t have the CCS socket, you won’t be able to quick charge.

Designed to either pedestal or wall-mount, the new BMW-branded DC quick charging station is not only a lot easier to site than full-size 50 kilowatt units, but it should also be cheaper for businesses to install thanks to its more modest power requirements. While you’re unlikely to be able to install one in a domestic situation, the lower cost over more powerful units should encourage more medium-sized businesses to offer CCS DC quick charging as a customer perk.

Alongside the launch of the new quick charging station, BMW announced that like Nissan and Tesla, it plans to offer its electric car customers unlimited DC quick charging for free. Unlike Tesla’s nationwide Supercharger network and Nissan’s expanding No Charge to Charge program, BMW’s free charging scheme will initially only be offered in the state of California.

Offered under the BMW ChargeNow program in collaboration with NRG eVgo, BMW says i3 owners will be able to charge for free across California at any CCS equipped eVgo Freedom Station sites from now through 2015. In order to be eligible, owners need to charge at least once by the end of 2014 at an eVgo DC quick charger. While there are limited numbers of CCS charging stations in the wild at the time of writing, BMW says eVgo plans to install at least 100 CCS charging stations across California to support the promotion.

Stanford Foresees $25,000, 300-Mile EV Battery Range With New Honeycomb Battery A research team from the Stanford School of Engineering has just figured out how to stabilize the lithium in a lithium-ion battery, and that could help bring the typical EV down to the level of mainstream affordability. 

The team is looking at a price point of $25,000 for an EV battery range of 300 miles, which would be competitive with a 40 mpg gasmobile.

The dream of extending EV battery range usually comes with a high price tag, so the idea that longer range could actually bring down costs is of particular interest, especially considering that former Energy Secretary Steven Chu is a member of that Standford research team.

Monday, 28 July 2014

BMW Introduces Its Own BMW i DC Fast Charger in US

bmw i3 BMW Introduces Its Own BMW i DC Fast Charger

After criticising Tesla for introducing its superchargers incompatible with other models, BMW of North America launched its BMW i DC Fast Chargers which can charge the BMW i3 all-electric vehicle’s battery up to 80 percent in 30 minutes.

A joint development between BMW and Bosch Automotive Service Solutions, BMW i DC Fast Chargers will 'change the face of public charging' as the first compact and affordable DC Combo fast charger.

The first BMW i DC Fast Charger will be on display at Plug-In 2014 on July 28 at the San JoseConvention Center. BMW also announced its new ChargeNow DC Fast program in cooperation with NRG eVgo, in which BMW i3 drivers in California can enjoy no cost unlimited 30 minute DC fast charging, at NRG eVgo Freedom Station sites equipped with DC Combo Fast Charging, through 2015.

Conventional DC fast chargers are about the size of a standard refrigerator, cost tens of thousands of dollars and require a significant amount of electricity. Half the size of a traditional electric vehicle DC charger – measuring 31”H x 19”W x 12”D and weighing approximately 100 pounds – BMW i DC Fast Chargers can be mounted on a wall, a first for electric vehicle DC fast chargers. In addition, BMW i DC Fast Chargers will be priced significantly less than other DC Combo chargers in the market at $6,548 for authorized BMW partners.

The 24 kW DC Fast Charger feeds the current directly to the vehicle’s battery, resulting in a more efficient and faster charge. BMW i DC Fast Chargers use the SAE Combo 1 connector, the North American automotive industry standard for fast charging; feature a rugged aluminum IP54 enclosure; meet NEMA 3 requirements; and are designed to perform in extreme weather conditions, from -40°F to 185°F.

Additionally, the BMW i DC Fast Charger is ChargePoint network-enabled, allowing electric vehicle drivers with the SAE Combo 1 inlet to access the BMW i DC Fast Charger using a ChargePoint or ChargeNow card. Major automakers including BMW, GM, Ford, Chrysler, Daimler, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche have committed to adopting the SAE Combo 1 inlet for DC charging.

The BMW i DC Fast Chargers will be available for BMW i Centers across the U.S. beginning in August.

Introducing ChargeNow DC Fast for BMW i3 Drivers
In keeping with its holistic approach to making DC fast charging more accessible and, in turn, increasing the adoption of electric vehicles, BMW, in cooperation with NRG eVgo, will offer no cost charging to BMW i3 drivers at participating eVgo Freedom Station sites equipped with DC Combo Fast Charging in California through 2015.

Using their ChargeNow cards, BMW i3 drivers will have access to unlimited 30-minute DC fast charging sessions with the ChargeNow DC Fast program. BMW i3 owners can sign up easily for ChargeNow DC Fast at In order to receive the full benefits of the program, BMW i3 drivers must use the ChargeNow card, provided with their BMW i3, to charge the vehicle at least once by December 31, 2014, at a participating eVgo Freedom Station. By doing so, BMW i3 drivers will enjoy continued access to no cost DC charging sessions through the end of 2015. Eligible BMW i3 vehicles must be equipped with the DC Fast Charging option (SAE).

eVgo will deploy a minimum of 100 BMW i3 compatible DC Fast Chargers across California to support the ChargeNow DC Fast Program.

Ampera is to be retired

Opel chief Karl-Thomas Neumann has confirmed that the Vauxhall/Opel Ampera is for the chop.
"After the eventual run-out of the current generation Ampera, we'll introduce a successor product in the electric vehicle segment," Neumann said. "Our next electric vehicle will be part of our massive product offensive - with 27 new vehicles in the 2014-2018 time frame.
"We see e-mobility as an important part of the mobility of tomorrow and we will continue to drive down costs and deliver affordability."
According to JATO Dynamics data the Ampera was "the fourth most popular plug-in in Europe (25 countries including Russia) in 2013 with 2,925 sales (plus 947 Chevy Volts) after Mitsubishi's Outlander (8,239), the V60 (8,066) and Toyota's Prius (4,958).
"Neumann also confirmed Opel's planning a new entry level model but this would not be a budget car but a real Opel (quality, innovation, German engineering)."

Next Toyota Prius Plug-in Will Be Able To Charge Wirelessly

wireless-prius Toyota had previously announced that it was testing Massachusetts-based WiTriCity’s wireless charging system on the Prius Plug-In, and those tests apparently went well. Plug-In Cars reports that the WiTriCity wireless charging system will be offered as an option on the next Toyota Prius Plug-In, due out in the fall of 2016.

The system is based off of technology developed down the street at MIT by Marin Soljačić, and what seems to have courted Toyota is the concept of “positional freedom.” Basically, the car and charging pad don’t need to be precisely aligned to deliver a charge, as they are in many other systems. This means drivers are free from annoying repositioning of the car in order to ensure it gets juiced up. RIght now charging is limited to just 3.3 kw, but should be up to 6.6 kw by next year, before it goes on sale in the new Prius Plug-In. Wireless charging is a huge boon for EV and plug-in hybrid owners, as it totally eliminates the plugging-in part.

It makes sense that Toyota would pursue wireless charging with the next Prius Plug-In, as reports are painting a picture of a more high-tech hybrid than the current car. Wireless charging is likely to be just one piece of the puzzle, as Toyota is finding it more and more difficult to improve fuel economy due to diminishing returns on engine and aerodynamic efficiency. As far as my wish list for the Prius Plug-In goes, more operational range would be nice, and would probably boost sales as the competition is eating away at the hybrid’s annual sales lead.

Make no mistake, the Prius is still top dog, and by making if techier, Toyota is only broadening its appeal. 2016 is supposedly the year wireless charging goes mainstream, and it could make the growing number of EV charging stations obsolete in short order. Or it could be a nifty feature that works better in theory than in practice.

Elon Musk Says A 500-Mile EV Could Happen Soon With an EPA-rated range of 265 miles per charge, the Tesla Model S is the longest-range electric car you can buy today. In an interview with AutoExpress, though, Elon Musk revealed that a 500-mile battery will be possible “soon” … but at an exceedingly high cost.

When asked “How far will a battery-powered car be able to go?,” Musk had this to say: "It will be possible to have a 500-mile range car. In fact we could do it quite soon, but it would increase the price. Over time you could expect to have that kind of range.

For a car that can easily exceed $100,000 even with federal and state tax incentives, jacking the price even higher probably isn’t a priority for Tesla. However, it’s been widely speculated that the Model S is in line for a bigger battery pack, which could go along with a stretched-wheelbase version that’s rumored to be in the works. It’s more than just a bigger battery that gives the Model S more than twice the range of any other electric car; aerodynamics and a unique drive unit make the Model S remarkably efficient despite its heft.

A longer-range Model S takes backseat priority to the soon-to-launch Model X SUV, though, and Tesla’s most important car will be the 200+ mile Model III. Tesla has shown that being able to go 200-miles on a charge is more than enough range to get from one side of America to the other, and a 500-mile battery is unnecessary for 95% of peoples’ daily driving needs (even 50 miles of range is unnecessary for 95% of trips).

Don’t expect Tesla to go hybrid to achieve that kind of driving range either, though a hybrid battery pack might be possible. Rather, Tesla will always be “pure electric” in Musk’s words, fully embracing his notion that every car on the road should be electric. Musk has also pulled back on his autonomous car bluster, saying that he wants customers to enjoy the electric driving experience. That’s a lot less bullish than his earlier claims that by 2017, Tesla will have a “90% autonomous” car. Instead he wants to “alleviate driver workload,” which indicates he’s probably aiming for adaptive cruise control and auto-follow features, rather than a car that “drives” itself.

As for when we’ll see a 500-mile battery, I’d wager it won’t happen until well after the Model III hits the road. For some people, though, this is the ultimate answer to range anxiety.

General Motors Working On Sonic EV With 200-Mile Range

450x337xSonic-LTZ-front-450x337.jpg.pagespeed.ic.JeJw11oIyx The upcoming pure electric vehicle being discussed in the wake of the Opel Ampera’s demise will also be sold in the United States, in the form of a Chevrolet Sonic.

The Sonic-based EV will reportedly have a 200 mile range, which will presumably come from the new battery that LG Chem (battery supplier for the Volt) is working on right now. That will arrive in 2016, which suggests that the Sonic EV won’t be introduced until at least that date.

The Sonic EV will also be built in Michigan, which will allow GM to gain regulatory credits for selling a pure EV that is also made in America. The Chevrolet Spark EV, which is built in Korea, is not eligible, and has a range of just 82 miles.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

370 mile range saltwater battery approved for EU testing in Quant EV.

Sunday Times Driving: A German companis testing a saltwater-based flow battery called the NanoFlowcell which is said to have five times the energy density of a lithium-ion battery. It also has no 'memory effect', meaning that its performance does not deteriorate over its operating life.
The Quant e-Sportslimosine car in which the battery is being tested was approved  for testing on European roads by Germany's SGS-TUV Saar transport safety organisation.
The electric car is capable of 200mph+, with a 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds and a range of 370 miles.

UK rapid charging network now exceeds 400 stations as EVs near 10,000. A new generation of rapid charging points along motorways and A-roads is allowing drivers of electric cars to cross the country without having to wait hours for their batteries to be topped up.

According to new figures, there are 435 rapid charge stations in operation — three times the figure of a year ago. They can recharge a standard electric car such as a Nissan Leaf or Renault Zoe to 80% of its capacity in half an hour, providing roughly 70 extra miles of range.

The units are rated at up to 50kW, significantly more powerful than the more common but slower 7kW chargers found in supermarket car parks or at the roadside in cities, which take about four hours to recharge a car to the same level.

Search for and buy your next car on

Often located at service stations, rapid chargers are in effect electrifying the motorway network, making it possible to drive from Land’s End to John o’ Groats on electric power alone — as long as you don’t mind frequent charging stops.

Industry figures believe the network could finally give the electric car market some impetus, boosting sales of plug-in hybrids such as the Mitsubishi Outlander too, as they will be able to run in electric mode more frequently. “They are a game-changer for electric cars,” said Ben Lane, managing director of Zap-Map, a website that claims to provide the most accurate map of charging points across the country. “This infrastructure will enable people to extend their journeys.”

The growth of rapid chargers is being driven by two factors: the realisation among electric car proponents that drivers are unwilling to wait for hours for a recharge, and increased competition between networks. There are seven national recharging networks (not including smaller regional outfits that usually operate in a single city) all vying to cover as much of the country as possible.

One of the biggest operators of rapid charging points is Ecotricity, which allows drivers to use its facilities free at 122 locations, including 80% of Britain’s motorway services. By the end of the year it plans to have a rapid charger installed at every motorway service area in the country. Other operators, including Chargemaster and Pod Point, are also investing heavily in the technology.

“Rapid chargers are a vital part of the country’s electric vehicle infrastructure…They have a very significant psychological effect.”

“Rapid chargers are a vital part of the country’s electric vehicle infrastructure,” said Erik Fairbairn, chief executive of Pod Point. “They have a very significant psychological effect. When drivers first think about an electric vehicle they want to know what the new version of filling the car up at a petrol station is and the answer is the rapid charger.”

None of the systems is as effective as the Tesla superfast chargers, however. The American upstart is installing ultra-high-speed chargers, rated at 120kW. Last month The Sunday Times revealed that the first of them had arrived in Britain and that work had begun on installing them by the M25. These charge its Model S cars at more than twice the rate of other rapid chargers, providing up to 130 miles of range from a 20-minute charge, but cannot be used on other makes of electric car.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Will Tesla's Model 3 Make Electric Vehicles Mainstream? Tesla Motors might be the pioneer of electric vehicles, but with its existing models starting over $60,000 the brand has been out of reach for most car buyers. That may change in 2017 when the company releases its Model 3 priced around $35,000.

The challenge for the brand if it hopes to become more mainstream is appealing to people seeking a luxury car, those looking for an environmentally friendly option, and even those not looking specifically for either. The $35,000 price tag puts the car squarely in the lower-end range of luxury vehicles but on the higher side for the hybrid/electric market.

The Model 3 could appeal to a variety of potential customers but its release will put Tesla into an entirely different business than the one it's in now. Currently the company is marketing a very limited number of vehicles, which creates an air of exclusivity. The new car will be an attempt at mass appeal. A few companies have managed to go from serving a small base of loyal customers to a widespread audience -- Apple comes to mind -- but many more have failed.

The question is whether $35,000 is a low enough number to make the average (well, the higher end of average) car buyer consider Tesla. Jason Hellmann, Daniel Kline, and Jake Mann debated the topic on the latest edition of Business Take, the show that gives you the Foolish perspective on the most important business stories of the week.

What is Tesla trying to do?

Unlike a hybrid, which uses both electric power and a traditional gasoline engine, Tesla's vehicles run purely on electricity. Their current cars are expensive largely because of the cost of making them and the relatively limited amount of vehicles produced.

John Voelcker, senior editor for High Gear Media, explained in an interview with CNET why the current Tesla models cost so much and why that will change:

Lithium ion battery costs need to come down (as one salient reason), both through advances in technology and higher volumes. They made the Roadster, which was a two-seat performance car. They made 2,500 of those. They've made more than 50,000 of their Model S sedans. Once you get into volume manufacturing, like the Model 3 that Musk described, then you're talking not about tens of thousands of cars per year but, ideally, hundreds of thousands of cars per year.

The more cars Tesla can make, the less each one costs to produce. That's a core principle of manufacturing. But in this case, it's not just about scale, it's about creating the technology to then build it in high volume. Tesla appears to have cracked that code, but is that lower cost low enough for consumers?

The case for the Model 3 as a luxury car
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has actually compared the Model 3 to BMW's 3 Series -- the luxury automaker's entry-level model, which starts at around $33,000. Add in the fact that the Tesla Model 3 requires no gas and it's easy to see how the lower price tag at least puts the company into the discussion.

Whether potential customers view Tesla as having the same cache as BMW is yet to be seen, but the fact that the company's current vehicles are so expensive helps. BMW showed with the 3 Series that as long as standards are maintained it's possible to move a little downmarket while maintaining the reputation of your brand. If the Tesla Model 3 has the panache and flair of the company's earlier models, it's likely it will be seen as a worthy contender by the luxury car crowd.

Another question that Tesla will have to answer with the Model 3 is can it deliver a premium driving experience? Electric engines don't roar like gas-powered ones, and many luxury buyers are looking for performance along with an exclusive label.

Tesla has the right price for people at the edge of the luxury market and the brand name has always been associated with high-end vehicles. Add in the fact that it requires no gas and is good for the environment and that should give buyers in this category a reason to take it for a test drive.

The case for the Model 3 as an environmentally friendly car
The green crowd might be an even easier sell for Tesla -- that audience is already looking for environmentally friendly vehicles. The $35,000 price tag might be a little high, but it's not out of the ballpark. The most popular environmentally friendly car, the Toyota Prius, has a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price of just over $24,000 (and it sometimes can be purchased for less). That makes Prius the winner purely on price, but Toyota's vehicle is a hybrid while the Model 3 is fully electric. That means Tesla buyers will save money on gas, which could make up the difference depending on usage.

Perhaps more importantly, while driving a Prius comes with a bit of a badge of honor among the green set, it can hardly be called stylish. The Model 3 will likely be considered a step up that's justifiable because it's actually better for the planet.

Nissan and Fiat currently sell electric vehicles, but both have ranges below 100 miles so it's unfair to compare them to the Model 3. By 2017 Tesla won't be the only company offering a full-electric car capable of going 200-plus miles on a charge. Nissan, which currently sells its Leaf electric vehicle with a starting MSRP of just over $29,000 (before tax incentives), also plans to offer an electric car with a 200-plus mile range. The current Leaf can go 84 miles before it needs a charge.

The company has not released pricing for its new vehicle, but if the current Leaf sells for just under $30,000, it's reasonable to imagine that one with a longer-range battery will cost at least somewhat more. Nissan has also not finalized a look for its new Leaf, but much like Toyota, nothing from the company's past suggests it will compete with the Model 3 in the design department.

Will people buy it?
It seems likely that the Model 3 will at least get a chance from lower-end luxury buyers -- especially those who also care about the environment -- and it has obvious appeal for people specifically targeting electric or hybrid cars. To truly become a major player, however, Tesla needs to appeal to people not specifically looking at dropping gasoline. For those customers Tesla will have to appeal for economic reasons. Research suggests that it has a strong case.

A report by the Electric Power Research Institute looked at the total cost of ownership for two fully electric cars -- the Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt -- compared to the cost for similar gasoline and gasoline hybrid vehicles. The study found that savings in fuel and maintenance mean electric vehicles can be cheaper to own, even with a higher sticker price. In most cases, the plug-in cars have total costs within 10% of conventional vehicles. You may pay more up front, but you make it back a little each week by not having to pay for gas.

That could be good news for Tesla, but customers still have to be willing (and able) to front the added cost, even if they make it up over time.

"Tesla wants to make the car affordable," Mann said. "You don't have to pay for gas for the life of the car…. Tesla should use that math to market the car."

The Model 3 seems well-positioned to move Tesla from the fringes of the auto business and into the mainstream. Of course 2017 is a long way away and a lot can change between now and the new vehicle's release, but Tesla's future looks bright.

Jpanese Tesla rival Imagine a future where electric vehicles (EV) are sold en masse by mid-size manufacturers and can be customized to the point that every customer could have not only their preferred paint job but even a unique body. 

Hiroyasu Koma, the owner of Japan’s GLM, believes that he can turn this idea into reality. Three years after founding GLM, Koma is well on his way. The Kyoto-based manufacturer developed a factory from scratch, secured the necessary regulatory approvals, and even patented its highly adaptable chassis. 

The startup’s first car is released in association with noted Japanese racing car manufactuer Tommykaira, which was founded in 1968. The electric sports car is sold as the EV version of the iconic Tommykaira ZZ. That makes GLM more of a coach-building company than a car brand. 

The ZZ EV sports cars can clear 100kph (62mph) in 3.9 seconds, keeping it essentially in a dead heat with the Tesla Roadster and making it faster than the Tesla Model S. 

Production of the Tommykaira ZZ EV was announced in December 2013 following a US$6 million funding round which featured Mitsubishi Capital, Globis Capital Partners, and the Japan Finance Corporation, which is the Japanese government’s public investment arm. The cars have completely sold out, but GLM confirmed earlier this month it will start mass production of the EV. Koma is ready to move fast. 

He tells Tech in Asia that he hopes to start selling the car globally in 2015, citing Europe, Malaysia, and Taiwan as prime targets. That expansion will necessitate a further round of funding, likely US$10 million according to Koma’s estimates.

The future of urban transit Say you step off a train in a new city and need to get to your hotel, about a mile away. Most taxi drivers don’t want to take people such a short distance. But with your luggage, it’s too far to walk.

Someday, there may be a third option: Urban transit systems built around small electric vehicles, or pods, that drive themselves.

Supporters of these driverless pods say they take up less space than cars, cut down on urban noise and produce zero emissions. And they offer more flexibility: Instead of relying on a set schedule, riders can summon these pods for private, individual trips.

Since 2011, a fleet of such pods has been transporting passengers between terminals at London’s Heathrow Airport, eliminating more than 50,000 bus trips a year on crowded nearby roads. The Heathrow system runs mostly on elevated tracks.

Now, Milton Keynes, a small city 45 miles northwest of London, wants to be the first in the world to put a network of pods on pedestrian walkways. The vehicles would connect the city’s train station with its downtown shopping district a mile away.

Riders can reserve pods using their smartphones. Or they will find a fleet of pods waiting for them outside the railway station or other popular spots, said Geoff Snelson, director of strategy for Milton Keynes Council.

Early designs show a small, stubby vehicle with two seats and a large, plunging windshield. Anticipating unease with driverless vehicles, the project’s backers want the pods to look sleek, modern and unthreatening.

“We want people to be curious about using them,” Snelson said.

This illustration imagines a row of pods parked outside a destination, waiting for riders. (From Transport Systems Catapult)

British engineering firm RDM Group is working on three prototype pods fitted with autonomous-driving systems from Oxford University’s Mobile Robotics Group. To start, they’ll have a steering wheel, an accelerator, a brake and a human driver, although future models are expected to be fully autonomous.

Packed with cameras and sensors, the pods will know when to turn and brake to avoid collisions with pedestrians, cyclists or teens on skateboards.

“The focus has to be on safety,” said Neil Fulton with Transport Systems Catapult, a British public transit advocacy group.

The city plans to begin testing the two-seater pods in the spring, with the hope of gradually integrating larger models into its transit system by the end of 2015. Other municipalities worldwide are watching Milton Keynes’ plans with an eye on adopting similar systems. But first, laws must be drawn up to allow driverless cars on roads in the UK.

“There’s huge interest in this,” said Fulton. “We’re trying a completely new mode of transport.”

Renault sales figures for June We just gathered the latest preliminary sales results for Renault electric cars and, as always, we put them into our exclusivecalculator.

In June, with nearly 1,900 EVs sold, Renault had it best EV sales month in a year (June of 2013) and one of the best ever for Renault.

Positive is that Renault Kangoo Z.E. grew year over year, but overall Renault is still falling (just slower).

This year, French manufacturer sold less than 7,000 electric vehicles, including more than 1,100 Twizy. Last year, in the first six months, we saw roughly 10,000 EVs sold by Renault.

Renault EV Sales – June 2014

In total, Renault has sold over 43,000 electric vehicles, from which more than 13,000 are Twizys and a little over 30,000 (data is preliminary) are full size cars.

This mean that Tesla Motors already exceeds cumulative sales of three electric cars from Renault with just Model S (not counting Roadsters).

Second best selling model is Renault Kangoo Z.E. with over 14,000, but very soon it will be overtaken by Renault ZOE (over 12,500).

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Electric cars equivalent to $0.75 per gallon The last time you could buy a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. for 75 cents was around the late 1970s.

If you own an electric car today though, the price you're paying for electricity is equivalent to about 75 cents per gallon.

According to a study by the Northeast Group (via Charged EVs), 25 utilities in 14 states currently offer electricity rates tailored towards electric vehicle owners.

With discounts for off-peak charging, the cost of topping up your battery is very low indeed. By converting the energy you're storing into a gasoline-equivalent figure, the price works out at about $0.75 per "gallon".

For comparison, the current average for gas prices in the U.S. is about $3.70 a gallon--almost five times as much.

Some states are even mandating EV-friendly rates from utilities--Minnesota recently became the first to require preferable rates for those charging off-peak. In addition, the state requires that customers have the option of a zero-emissions tariff, making charging even greener, as well as cheaper.

Ben Gardner, President of Northeast Group, explains that many utilities are seeking ways to better engage with their customers.

Electric vehicle owners are already fairly in-tune with the price they pay for electricity, so making life a little more pleasant for EV drivers is one way of improving customer relations. Since they typically consume more electricity than other homeowners, it also makes financial sense for utilities to have them on their side.

So if you want to drive around like the last thirty-five years or so of gas price increases haven't happened, the message is simple: buy an electric car.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Leaf to have 185 mile (300km) range and more mainstream styling Nissan executives have shared some of their goal for the next version of the popular LEAF electric car. Top of the list are more "mainstream styling" and a new higher-capacity battery that "greatly increases its range". In fact, they see greater range as key to higher sales.
“The battery chemistry is all about range and energy density. That’s where you see the technology moving very, very fast,” said Andy Palmer, executive vice president in charge of Nissan’s zero emissions and Infiniti businesses, in an interview last month at the Beijing auto show. “This really is the game-changing technology.”
Palmer wouldn't say how much range the next LEAF will have, but he said that he thought 300 kilometers (185 miles) was a good amount to ensure mainstream appeal. That's quite a jump from the current LEAF with its 84 miles (which is better than the 73 miles that it had at first, before it was tweaked to increase range for the 2013 model).
It's not yet clear what the next-generation LEAF will look like, but Nissan said it will keep the hatchback but try to make it look less "EV-like" and more "normal". They actually name-dropped Tesla as a company that made good-looking EVs that don't look too much like EVs. This next-gen LEAF is expected around 2017.
Nissan showed a concept called 'Invitation' a little while ago that I think has some nice elements. The design could be cleaned up a little and made to look less like a car-show concept car, but overall the proportions and angles are nice. Judge by yourself:
© Nissan
© Nissan
© Nissan
© Nissan
After some work, it has the potential to be better than the current LEAF, in my opinion (not that it's that bad, but it probably turns off some people who wouldn't be turned off by an electric Sentra, for example).

UK home charging grant capped

Here in the UK the Office for Low Emission vehicles has put a cap on its home charging point grant scheme, causing British Gas to withdraw its free charge point offer.

The original scheme - introduced in February 2013 - offered a 75% grant towards the cost of installing a home charge point, up to the cost of £1000.

Last month, however, OLEV changed the terms of the scheme, and reduced the maximum funding level to £900.

Suppliers such as British Gas used this subsidy to offer charging points, with installation, for free - on condition of anonymous usage data being sent back to the supplier.

Since the change, British Gas has reacted by introducing a £115 installation charge for the unit.

The firm's website says: "Further to the Office of Low Emission Vehicles’ recent announcement to reduce the subsidised funding for electric vehicle home charge points, we can no longer offer a charging point free of charge.

"Our new price for a subsidised charging point is £115 (including VAT) for the 16 Amp data-enabled charging point (4.5m cable) with a recommended connector that’s most suitable for your own specific vehicle."

At present, the websites of other companies such as Chargemaster are still offering a free unit, although it is unclear if others will follow British Gas' lead.

Renault has stated that, although provided by British Gas, home charging point offers supplied with Zoe and Twizy models still stand.

The new scheme - with reduced funding - is due to run until March 31 2015, or until exhausted.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Net-Zero-Energy homes Last year, CleanTechnica reported a new project from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) about how to create a Net-Zero-Energy home. The results from the project have been disclosed after one year of experience with an excellent outcome. The residence achieved the goal of net-zero consumption with a surplus energy of 491 kWh.
A Net-Zero-Energy home is a residence that generates as much energy as it uses while meeting all the needs of the residents. The NIST net-zero-energy house was located in the suburbs of Maryland and has been used as a laboratory along a whole year, where a virtual family of four members spare energy in the same way a real average american family would do.
In order to achieve the net-zero consumption, the house was built up to U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum standards, the highest standard for sustainable structures in the country. Under these standards, the test house was estimated to be 60% more efficient than houses built to meet the requirements of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code, the standards adopted for new constructions in Maryland.
The building was extremely well isolated, aiming to cut out air infiltration and heat looses in walls and the roof, including triple-paned windows. “The most important difference between this home and a Maryland code-compliant home is the improvement in the thermal envelope, the insulation and air barrier,” NIST mechanical engineer Mark Davis has declared. Apart of the insulation, the house got installed solar water heating and 32 solar panels in order to produce its own energy, and was equipped with the most energy-efficient appliances.
In a normal year, a comparable size home in Maryland would consume an average of almost 27,000 kWh of energy. Starting last summer, the solar panels produced more energy than the house used from July through October, but last winter was much colder than previous ones and the snow, double normal, covered during 38 days the sun-powered system. The house used 3,000 kWh more energy during the year of the study than it was projected for the region’s typical weather. In November, it began running negative numbers monthly and at the end of March the energy deficit was 1,800 kWh. In April, the energy yield increased again, and the house injected electric power to the grid on most of the days.
In total, the photovoltaics produced 13,577 kWh of energy, while the house only used 13,086 kWh in the whole year. The Net-Zero-Energy house from the NIST showed to be 70% more efficient, instead of the 60% initially estimated, than houses meeting the standards adopted in Maryland. The NIST suggests that a Net-Zero-Energy home could be combined with the use of an electric car to make use of this energy surplus, enough to drive an electric-powered vehicle for about 1,440 miles.
Although the extra investment needed to improve the efficiency, compared to the price of a similar construction complying with Maryland’s state building code, is calculated to be about $162,700, residents of these type of houses would save about $4,373 in electricity a year ($364 a month), and the improvements will not only increase the total value of the house, but it will also enhance the living comfort.
Along with the “Better Buildings Challenge” program of the Obama administration, many states are encouraging the construction of more efficient or even net-zero energy homes. For example, California aspires to enforce that all newly constructed homes are Net-Zero-Energy by 2020.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The end of coal When representative of OPEC, Sheik Yamani famously said, "The stone age did not end for lack of stones", it is now clear that the coming decade will see a collapse of coal power and not because coal supplies are running out. 
The writing is on the wall for oil as well - it will help electric vehicles because it will no longer be true that they use "dirty" electricity in the main.   
In May 2014, a new series of reports from global investment bank Citigroup highlighted the dramatic changes that are sweeping the world's largest energy markets - events which will have a significant impact on the future of the coal industry.   "A New Balance of Power, A Short Gas Bridge to Renewables, and Global Thermal Coal: When Cyclical Supply Met Structural Demand," come to these conclusions. 
  Emission standards and rising costs will force a mass closure of coal-fired generation (more than 60 gigawatts) in the next few years in the world's biggest market, the United States. And contrary to most expectations, the reports say gas will play only a minor role in this "energy transformation," because it will be overtaken due to the falling costs of renewables.   
Increasingly strict environmental measures are severely limiting the feasibility of opening new coal plants, not just in the U.S. and Europe, but also in China - which for the past few years has dominated the global coal market and has been the world's biggest consumer and importer.   
In short, Citigroup says, the evolution in electricity markets is being driven by a combination of regulatory and technology changes.   
This, the reports say, has major implications for areas with large coal resources, which require huge investments in infrastructure (rail lines and ports), and may simply not make economic sense in the future. The reports note that financiers are already absorbing these lessons, and many projects have been delayed as a result. Risk to fossil fuels The reports note the growing risk to fossil fuels, and the emergence of what Citigroup described in an earlier report as the impending "age of renewables."   
"(Coal) demand is in structural decline as environmental pressures rise and costs of alternative energy sources decline," the Citi analysts state. "The shale gas revolution was the first blow, but rapidly declining wind and solar costs and the spread of unconventional gas production techniques are set to erode coal's long-time cost advantage over alternative electricity sources."   
To illustrate the changing nature of the U.S. market, Citi published graphs showing the trends identified, including a short-term burst of gas-fired generation in coming years before all new capacity is taken up by wind or solar. Some reports suggest solar is already substituting for peaking gas plants. Closures in the coal industry are predicted, with the biggest to come from regulatory moves in the next four years.   
"Increasingly strict environmental measures are also severely limiting the feasibility of opening new coal power plants not only in Europe and North America, but in China as well," the report notes. Meanwhile, global coal prices are sinking further, with Citi predicting a price of just $72 per ton this year - well below the break-even estimates of most coal mines.   
"Investors are increasingly considering whether some fossil-fuel-related assets might become "stranded," with significant loss of value, if stronger carbon constraints are imposed to mitigate the risk of dangerous climate change, or if alternative energy solutions become technically and economically more attractive."   
Financiers are therefore taking a cautious view, so there is delay in many coal projects in Australia, where there are more than $60 billion of projects either publicly announced or undergoing feasibility study, but only one project - the controversial Whitehaven development at Maules Creek - currently in development.   
"Where once there was a long list of projects that should have been underway by now in Australia, projects have dramatically succumbed to the reality of lower prices and high capex/capex intensity," Citigroup notes.   China represents the most significant shift in environmental policy related to coal. Citi advises that demand will slow as the China economy transitions away from investment and manufacturing-led growth, as alternative power capacity is built out, and environmental measures are enacted to discourage coal usage. It may cease to become an importer.   
"To reduce China's dependence on coal, the government is pursuing an 'everything but' strategy," Citi notes. "This includes rapid build-out of solar, wind, nuclear, and natural gas generating capacity." Solar, it says, will provide the fastest growth, while the largest volume growth will come from hydro.   
Citi highlights the recent growth in volumes on the country's nascent carbon exchanges, which are coming into play just as Australia looks to end its carbon price.   
Even in India, the other great hope for coal producers, Citi says, will probably be capped at lower-than-expected levels because coal consumption will be lower than forecast.   
Citi considers that, "The transition period from now to 2020 could give utilities time to evolve until new technology and a new paradigm begin to play a much larger role in energy consumption and power generation. At first glance, more rooftop solar and distributed generation, along with slowdown in power sales, and lower peak power prices and heat rates, are headwinds to merchant power generators. But it still takes time for new sources to fully develop and integrate into the market."   
As for gas it advises "The growth in gas demand for power generation could be less significant than is commonly believed. Gas is commonly thought of as the substitute fuel for coal in power generation once coal plants retire. But rising renewables generation should increasingly take over market shares of coal and gas-fired generation, particularly in an environment of slow electricity demand growth." Massive investments not happening Big warning from IEA   
According to the respected International Energy Agency, the world needs to invest more than $48 trillion by 2035 to meet global energy demand and prevent oil prices spiralling out of control.   The IEA represents some of the world's largest energy consuming countries. It says that current investment to secure new supplies of oil and gas and keep the lights on has to increase by a quarter to hit the target, as the world's population increases.   
What is more, spending to improve energy efficiency, primarily for cars and buildings, also needs to grow fourfold over the next two decades, declares the IEA.   The report outlines the scale of the challenge facing governments and companies not only to replace ageing power stations and fast depleting oil fields but to secure additional supplies to meet this strongly growing demand.   
Maria van der Hoeven, the executive director of the IEA, warned: "The reliability and sustainability of our future energy system depends on investment. But this won't materialise unless there are credible policy frameworks in place as well as stable access to long-term sources of finance. Neither of these conditions should be taken for granted. There is a real risk of shortfalls."   
In 2013 investment in energy production, covering oil and gas as well as the power sector, was $1.6 trillion, double the level in 2000 but far short of the $2 trillion which needs to be spent annually over the next two decades, or $40 trillion in total. Energy efficiency challenge The world faces an even bigger challenge to improve energy efficiency. Annual investment is running at $130 billion but needs to be $550 billion per year in order to total $8 trillion by 2035.   
In this respect it is important that EVs convert 80% of their fuel -electricity into useful motive power whereas for internal combustion engines the opposite is true - 80% is wasted.   
The situation in Europe is particularly dire. About $2.2 trillion needs to be spent on new grids and power stations by 2035 but wholesale electricity prices have to be 20 per cent higher to make the investment viable, the report said.   
However, with consumer energy bills in many countries including the UK close to record highs, the necessary policies to boost electricity prices would be hugely unpopular.  

Saturday, 19 July 2014

BMW i3 and I8 official Formula E cars BMW is finalising a partnership as the official vehicle supplier to Formula E.

If both sides sign the agreement in which BMW will probably become a main Formula E sponsor, then the i3 and i8 models will be used as course, medical and VIP cars at all race events around the world. Earlier, Formula E bought one Rimac Concept_One for on-track duties too.

i8 probably will be the pace car, while i3 should be well suited for all other purposes.

Jörg Reimann, Vice President BMW Brand Experience, stated:
“We have watched with great interest the continued growth of the new FIA Formula E Championship and the potential it has to significantly increase the interest in sustainable mobility. As a global manufacturer at the forefront of innovation and technology, BMW regards Formula E as a great platform in which to showcase our range of fully-electric and hybrid vehicles and to align our common goals. We are working on an agreement to finalise this partnership.”

Formula CEO Alejandro Agag, remarked:
“We are very proud and excited that a manufacturer such as BMW wants to be involved with the Formula E series. I think that the all-electric i3 and i8 will make fantastic official vehicles and I can’t wait to see them on track at the first round in Beijing on September 13.”